Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said he has “no doubt” President Donald Trump is a racist following the president’s recent attacks on four Democratic congresswomen of color in which he told them to “go back” to other countries.
“What I’m hearing over and over again from my constituents is, please save our democracy,” Cummings told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday.
“They say, ‘I’m scared.’ And I have never in my total of 37 years in public service ever heard a constituent say that they were scared of their leader,” Cummings said, referencing Trump.
Asked if he believes Trump is a racist, Cummings said yes.
“No doubt about it,” the Maryland lawmaker said. “I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt, but ... when I think about what he said to these young ladies who are merely trying to bring excellence to government ... it takes me back.”
The chairman of the House Oversight Committee said Trump’s vitriolic rhetoric toward the four freshman lawmakers ― Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Ayanna Pressley (Mass.), Ilhan Omar (Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) ― reminds him of the racism he faced in the 1960s.
“When the president does these things, it brings up the same feelings that I had over 50-something years ago,” Cummings told ABC. “It’s very, very painful. It’s extremely divisive. And I just don’t think that this is becoming of the president of the United States of America.”
Trump has said his tweets last Sunday, in which he told the lawmakers to “go back” to other countries, were not racist. All four women are Americans. Omar fled war-torn Somalia with her family when she was 8 years old and immigrated to the U.S. as a refugee four years later. The other three were born in the U.S.
The president’s comments inspired members of the crowd at his rally in Greenville, North Carolina, last week to chant “send her back” about Omar. His attacks on the four congresswomen ― known as “the Squad” on Capitol Hill ― as well as the “send her back” chants have drawn condemnation from Democrats and some Republicans.
Trump claimed he was “not happy” with the “send her back” chants, though he let them continue for 13 seconds at the rally and did not denounce them at the time. He has since called the rally-goers “incredible patriots.”
The House voted last week 240-187 to condemn Trump’s “go back” comments as racist, with just four Republicans joining Democrats in support of the resolution.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misstated that Omar immigrated to the U.S. when she was 8 years old. In fact, she was 12 years old.